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Exercise and Air Pollution

Cycling to work in certain cities could be more dangerous than doing nothing.

Fifteen cities in the world have air pollution so bad that 60 minutes of daily cycling outweighs the benefits of exercise. By measuring the annual levels of PM2.5 pollution (tiny particles that embed themselves deep in the lungs) which are created mainly by vehicles and factories, scientists modeled the health effects of active forms of travel and air pollution. No U.S. or European city is included in these 15 cities.

PositiveTip: Choose to exercise outdoors at the time of day when air pollution is at the lowest levels.

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How Exercise Contributes to Cancer Prevention

Exercise can lower the risk of developing cancer.

Exercise contributes many direct and indirect biochemical changes that help explain its anti-cancer benefits. A few of these include:

  1. Changes to cell-growth regulators.
  2. Stimulate proteins involved in DNA repair.
  3. Improves immunity, especially regular, moderate exercise.
  4. Helps reduce chronic inflammation.
  5. Contributes to weight management.
  6. Outdoor exercise can result in increased exposure to sunlight and vitamin D.

There are likely many other pathways as well. Learn more by reading this excellent summary.

PositiveTip: Choose to get moderate exercise almost everyday of the week to enhance your health and lower your risk of cancer.

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Exercise Lowers Depression in School Age Children

Increasing physical activity in grade school may reduce the incidence of depression.

Almost 800 children in Norway were assessed for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at ages 6, 8, and 10 years old. Researchers found those with higher levels of MVPA at 6 and 8 years old experienced fewer symptoms of depression 2 years later. Each hour of MVPA per day resulted in about 0.2 fewer depression symptoms, similar to the results obtained by psychosocial intervention programs.

PositiveTip: Encourage your schools to make certain each day includes time set aside for MVPA.

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Diabetics Should Get Up and Move!

Walking for 10 minutes after meals lowers post-meal blood glucose spikes.

In a newly released position statement, the American Diabetes Association says everyone who has diabetes or is at risk of it should get up and move their body as vigorously as they can! In addition to regular, daily physical activity, diabetics should aim to move around every 30 minutes to improve their blood glucose management. This excellent statement includes categories of exercise with benefits and safety guidelines.

PositiveTip: Get up and get moving is wise advice for everyone--including diabetics.

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Can Cash Incentives Improve Exercise?

Money incentives not enough to promote long-term exercise.

In Singapore, 800 adults were randomized to one of four groups:

  1. No Fitbit activity tracker
  2. Using a Fitbit
  3. Fitbit plus cash incentive for meeting daily goals ($20 max)
  4. Fitbit plus a charitable incentive

At 6 months incentives were removed and participants asked to continue wearing the Fitbit for 12 months. The cash incentive stimulated 30 minutes of exercise compared to the controls. Charity incentives 20 minutes, Fitbit only 15 minutes. When incentives were withdrawn, Fitbit use dropped to 10% for all groups.

PostiiveTip: Internal, not external rewards are needed to prompt long-term physical activity habits.

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Physical Inactivity Leads to Higher Cancer Risk

Aim for 30+ minutes of physical activity a day--in any way!

More than a quarter of adults in America age 50+ reported no physical activity outside of work during the past month--that is about 31 million people at higher risk for obesity, heart disease, and cancer. The largest demographic of inactive people was in the South. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports too much body fat increases the risk of 11 cancers.

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Exercise First in Treating Fibromyalgia

EULAR downplays emphasis on medications for fibromyalgia.

Following a careful review of current evidence, a multidisciplinary group from 12 European countries, has unanimously endorsed the use of exercise as the first line of treatment for fibromyalgia. Exercise is very beneficial in pain management, and improves physical functioning and well-being--and is readily available, relatively low cost, and has few safety concerns. These new recommendations place lesser emphasis on medications.

PositiveChoices: Early diagnosis, good patient education, and the maintenance of physical activity increase the likelihood of good outcomes in fibromyalgia.

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Exercise Benefits Depression

Physical activity improved the quality of life in depressed patients.

A carefully designed, randomized, controlled 12-week study of 106 adults with nonpsychotic major depression with limited response to medication found both high- and low-dose aerobic exercise resulted in significant improvements in psychosocial functioning and quality o

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Senior Brains Benefit from Physical Activity

Leisure-time physical activity is beneficial in reducing cognitive decline in seniors.

Researchers with the Northern Manhattan Study have found that low levels of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) in seniors is an independent risk factor for declining cognitive performance compared to moderate to heavy intensity LTPA. More than 1200 participants were followed for 5 years. The data was adjusted for confounders, including vascular disease. 

PositiveTip: It is never too late to begin regular physical activity--it benefits even seniors!

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What is Good for the Heart is also Good for the Brain

It's a no-brainer: no pills, no side effects from meds. Just exercise!

Over five years of research, older adults who did not engage in moderate to high levels of exercise experienced greater declines in cognitive processing speed and memory function. This decline was the same as would have been expected with 10 years of aging instead of the 5 years that actually past in the study.

PositiveTip: Stay active as you age. It is essential for brain health!